“State Parties recognise the right of persons with disabilities to education. With a view to realising this right without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity” – UNCRPD
Inclusive education is not only an evidence-based approach to education that is backed by decades of research affirming its benefits for all students, but it is also a fundamental human right. In 2016, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities convened to produce the most recent advancement regarding inclusive education. General Comment No. 4 was added to Article 24 of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability. General Comment No. 4 provides an authoritative and legally binding definition of inclusive education. It has removed common ambiguity from the term and what it means in practice by clearly articulating what inclusive education is, and how it differs from exclusion, segregation, and integration. Australia has ratified this human right, deploying our obligation as a nation to uphold its intent across domestic legislation and policy.
General Comment No.4 defines inclusive education as:
…a process of systemic reform embodying changes and modifications in content, teaching methods, approaches, structures and strategies in education to overcome barriers with a vision serving to provide all students of relevant age range with an equitable and participatory learning experienceUnited Nations CRPD, Article 24, General Comment No.4, paragraph 11
In addition to the definition of inclusive education, General Comment No. 4 outlines 9 core features necessary for successful implementation:
- Whole systems approach
- Whole education environment
- Whole person approach
- Supported teachers
- Respect for and value of diversity
- Learning-friendly environment
- Effective transitions
- Recognition of partnerships
A summary of General Comment No. 4 can be found here.
An exploration of human rights for people with disability (including the importance of General Comment No.4 and what it means) can be experienced by viewing Why do we have human rights?